Jazz rescue is tribute to Bute’s community spirit

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THE organisers of this weekend’s Isle of Bute Jazz Festival have praised the efforts of the community on Bute in saving the event from the axe.

Just three months ago the outlook for the festival, now in its 24th year, looked grim after the organising committee announced the event would not take place this year due to a shortage of funds.

But after the festival’s many supporters rallied round with financial donations and offers of practical help, the 2011 event kicks off tonight (Friday), and continues until Sunday evening, with 16 bands playing at 11 venues during the course of the weekend.

Approximately £13,200 was raised in the space of not much more than a week from local private individuals, businesses and Argyll and Bute Council, with a further £1,000 donated online, after a crisis meeting at the Victoria Hotel in Rothesay on January 26 at which the financial position of the festival was laid bare. Many others offered practical help.

“The community’s response has been very heartening,” festival chairman Tim Saul said this week.

“The thing that surprised me the most was the support we received from private individuals with no vested business interest.

“I think that demonstrates that the festival has a special place in the hearts of the local community.

“The festival is probably worth about £750,000 to the island’s economy, but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it is organised by unpaid volunteers who do it out of a sense of commitment to their community.”

Local members of Argyll and Bute Council agreed to donate £5,000 from the Rothesay Common Good Fund to help the festival, while the authority also agreed to provide an underwrite of a further £3,000.

Island councillor Isobel Strong told us: “I was delighted that the council was able to provide financial support for the jazz festival through the Common Good Fund.

“The festival is hugely important to the island, and the public meeting at the Victoria Hotel was incredibly positive.

“The community’s donations of financial and practical help just show the strength of local affection for the event.”

* A preview of the 2011 festival can be found at the Lifestyle section of this site from Thursday morning.